THE dissolution of Zifa at the weekend which gave birth to a new body, National Football Association of Zimbabwe (NFAZ), has sparked outrage within the game’s stakeholders with veteran football administrator Francis Zimunya, who is the leader of the Lifelong Footballers’ Trust of Zimbabwe (LIFTZ), challenging the legality of the process through a petition to the Sport and Recreation Commission.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
NFAZ president Phillip Chiyangwa at the weekend announced that Zifa had folded with a debt of over $6 million and had reformed under a new name.
An election was hurriedly conducted on Saturday, on the eve of Warriors’ 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Malawi, where Chiyangwa was declared the new NFAZ boss and would be assisted by Omega Sibanda. The executive members were all retained.
However, Zimunya, a former Zifa board member who fronts the LIFTZ, a grouping which represents the interests of former players, coaches and referees, has come out to challenge Chiyangwa’s election, declaring it a nullity.
In the petition to the SRC and copied to the Ministry of Sport and Recreation Zimunya says the whole move was flawed as due process was not followed in respect to the holding of elections.
Zimunya questioned how the Chiyangwa leadership was elected for the second time without a mandate from football structures from area zones and provinces and also queried the existence of a constitution used in the Saturday election.
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The petition quizzed why NFAZ were still using the Zifa logo on the Warriors jerseys for the match against Malawi if Zifa was no longer existent.
Former Premier Soccer League secretary-general Chris Sambo is the secretary-general of LIFTZ with Eric Aisam as the organising secretary.
“We, as former members of Zifa who have spent our lifetime contributing and investing in Zifa as players, referees, coaches, administrators etc, are surprised to having woken up and finding out that our association had been closed down without due notice to its stakeholders,” the petition read.
“We expected that the dissolution of Zifa should have been dealt with at all levels of Zifa, which was not the case. After going through investigations, we have found out that the former Zifa Board and Assembly may have violated the country’s laws by not fully adhering to the SRC Act and certain aspects of the Zifa constitution.”
The petition continued: “Of concern to us and the generality of the soccer-loving people of Zimbabwe are issues which need clarification. Our question is: Which constitution was used to elect this new Board and were the SRC Statutes followed? Who gave the former Zifa councillors/Assembly/Congress the mandate to vote each other into office? As far as we understand, the grassroots of Zifa structures never convened meetings passing resolutions mandating or allowing councillors to act in the manner they did, which renders the process a nullity. It is our submission that this has created a vacuum of leadership in Zimbabwe football. There is no legitimate leadership in football at the moment as the last elected Zifa Board and Council/Assembly which was elected to serve office until 2018 resigned en masse from Zifa or did dissolve themselves. A constitutional crisis has been created in Zimbabwe football.”
Chiyangwa has insisted that the formation of NFAZ is legitimate, saying the process had already been approved by Fifa and done with the “blessings” of football’s world governing body.
However, Fifa said it “has not received any communication on the outcome of Zifa’s extraordinary congress on June 4, 2016 to decide on the possible dissolution of the association”.
The dissolution of Zifa affected the association’s secretariat operations with the bulk of the staff thrown out of employment. Reports suggest that the employees were told to re-apply for their jobs.
That development has also attracted condemnation from Zimunya.
“We hereby inform you that we condemn the inhumane action towards the Zifa employees which was meted on them by the former Phillip Chiyangwa-led Zifa Board and Council/Assembly that has caused discomfort to all across the board. Of concern to us as responsible citizens is the manner in which our fellow citizens have been unfairly treated. Has the Labour Act been adhered to? If not, why do we as a country allow people to violate our country’s laws in the manner the Zifa Board and Council has done?”
LIFTZ also requested the SRC to invoke its powers according to the SRC Act and appoint an interim committee to run the affairs of the national game pending the holding of proper elections. Chiyangwa’s term as Zifa president was set to expire in 2018.
“As former footballers and responsible Zimbabwean citizens, we bring this matter to you for your urgent attention. If no concrete and decisive action is taken by you within five working days from the date of this letter, we will have no option, but to bring the matter to the courts through the Class Actions Act or others,” the petition added.
The development threatens to overshadow the Warriors’ weekend qualification for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals to be staged in Gabon, a feat achieved following a three-nil demolition of Malawi on Sunday.